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Chronicles of Nadir 2: Prince Crispian Chapter II
The Chronicles of Nadir
As told from the grave by Tom Lewis
Tale the Second
Chapter The Second:
Treasure, the Ship of State,
and a Dwarf Adrift
See Chapter 1
[Image of Tom Lewis supplied by Malcolm B Duncan, or vice versa]
Tom Lewis laments an earthly setback of whopper proportions.
Suddenly, there was a rending of the air and a great howling of the fallen. Distant sounds of the tally room reached the children and an ethereal voice with a strange English accent floated on the Maelstrom.
“Sounds like Anthony Green,” said Peter.
“Bias, it’s all bias,” said Alexander. “I know, why don’t we abolish the ABC?”
“My husband could do that,” said Little Lucy proudly.
“Some new water policy, is it?” sneered Alexander. “The last one worked so well – it’s a wonder we’re not still in government.”
“Brilliant,” enthused Amanda. “We could use water torture on the lot of them.”
“Yes, but where would the water come from?” said a new Voice behind them as the Maelstrom settled.
Without looking around, Little Lucy said “We’d buy it obviously. We buy everything. We bought our own iceberg to fill the pool.” Suddenly realising the Voice belonged neither to Amanda, Peter or Alexander, slowly she turned. Step by step, inch by inch she approached the origin of the Voice. There before her was a diminutive Aryan girl with flaxen hair, piercing blue eyes and a manner that would be at home in Buchenwald. They looked at one another for such a long time and it struck Little Lucy that the new girl’s eyes NEVER BLINKED. After about 5 minutes of trying to stare the new girl down, Little Lucy fainted.
“Look what you’ve done,” exclaimed Amanda without using an exclamation mark. She had tried it once but it had set her chins wobbling so much that the Australian Seismic Laboratory had asked her not to do it again as they were getting complaints from the Americans. “Who are you?”
The little Aryan girl continued her stare and said, using the Voice, “I’m Julie. I’m a friend of Brendan’s and he’s sent me to save the world for the workers by giving them the same choice they deserve and sticking it right up that red-haired Welsh bint.”
“Er, yes, whatever,” said Amanda. Peter and Alexander were trying to revive Little Lucy. Peter was palpitating her chest while Alexander was giving her the kiss of life. In the annals of medicine, it is rare for someone to revive from a faint in less than a nanosecond. “Get off me, I’m a married woman.” she exclaimed also not using an exclamation mark but for very different reasons to Amanda. Little Lucy’s husband thought they were wasteful as they took up more ink and with his new responsibilities, he had to be seen to be fiscally rectitudinous. He was also mean as batshit unless he was spending $20M on his re-election campaign which was, after all deductible, so it was really the taxpayer paying for it so it didn’t matter and it was for the good of the country after all even if those miserable, ungrateful bastards in the Party Room couldn’t spot talent when it virtually shone in their unworthy presences. Hawke hadn’t had to put up with that sort of treatment and he was only an ALP Messiah – he hadn’t even been Born to Rule.
“Look, I’m a bit peckish,” said Amanda, looking at the others as they shrank from her. “Did anyone bring anything to eat?”
“Eat?” said Julie. The Voice rose an octave: “Eat? You only get to eat if it’s in your AWA. Have you got an AWA?”
“Actually, as of the moment, I think I’m on a pension and allowances,” Amanda volunteered. “Look, I’m off to see if I can find a pasta bar, I’ll see you all later.” And she mooched cheerfully off into the distance as only Amanda knew how, whistling a few of her favourite tunes from La Grande Bouffe.
The children found themselves in a flat area overgrown with weeds. “You know,” said Little Lucy, “I think this must have been a courtyard to a Castle once.”
“Looks very much like the House on the Hill or in it actually,” said Julie unblinkingly.
“It makes me feel a little queer,” said little Lucy.
“Yes, that happens to me quite a lot,” said Alexander. “I wonder if there might be Treasury.”
“I’ve rather gone off Treasury since we lost it,” said Peter.
“Oh, come on,” said Alexander, “Let’s have a look.”
After a lot of rooting around principally involving Julie – but as this is a children’s’ story we need not go into that in too much detail – let’s just say she took the West Wing – Little Lucy cried out: “Oh look, I’ve found a sort of a cave thing.”
“Let’s explore,” said a muffled Alexander disappearing into the hole. As this is a C.S. Lewis parody, I shall omit his constant mutterings about being late. “Ooh I say,” he said, also avoiding an exclamation but more for reasons of breeding than anything else. “Here’s my old Qantas Lounge Gold Pass and look Peter, here’s your abacus.”
“That’s my copy of Dale Carnegie,” said Little Lucy, overjoyed. Julie had gone into the deepest recesses of the dark space and emerged into the light wearing a metal helmet with attached blonde plaits as seen in the best productions of Wagner. The children, delighted with their discoveries, had found no food.
“I’m hungry,” said Little Lucy, “we’d better find some food”. Just then, a snake passed through the grass and Julie resolved to follow it. The others trailed after. The snake led her to an apple tree and said, “Here, eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and you will be satisfied.”
[Now I know Peter Cundall has a particular view about whether the Bible actually specifies malus pumila but this is my story and I need it for the next joke].
“Knowledge – I don’t need knowledge,” said Julie, the Voice trilling as the fading rays of the sun reflecting off her Valkyrie helmet. “This is the Liberal Party; I’m perfectly happy the way I am.”
“Well,” said Little Lucy, “I could do with all I can get.”
“Probably why you got married,” said Alexander, sniggering because he came from old money.
Little Lucy, Peter and Alexander divided the apples between them. Peter offered one to Julie and said: “Care for a pear?” “Don’t mind if I do,” she said. Realising he could have been misinterpreted, Peter quickly thrust the apple into her mouth making her look a little like the beginnings of a main course at a Viking feast.
Finally, full of apples, and with the dark gathering, the children curled up and went to sleep.
In the middle of the night, Little Lucy had to get up to do what Little Lucys do in the middle of the night. She stood carefully to avoid waking the others and, as she found her way back by the light of a crescent moon, she discovered one of the most amazing things she had ever seen – Julie even slept with her eyes open in a glassy unwavering stare that did not react even when Little Lucy moved her hand across them. “This is one weird bird,” Little Lucy thought to herself as she settled back down and resumed her slumber.
Next morning, as the sun’s first shafts were glancing off Julie’s helmet the children awoke, ate more apples (there being nothing else), and set out in search of a spring to quench their thirst.
As they came to the edge of the island, they noticed a boat drifting towards them from the mainland. “Wish Amanda was here,” said Peter “She’d know what to do.”
“’Were’ here,” said Alexander. “How many times do I have to tell you: it’s subjunctive.”
It was obvious that there was something struggling in the bottom of the boat. “It’s a boat person,” said Little Lucy, “I’m frightened.”
As the boat nudged against the shore, Julie strode up looked in and said, “It’s not a boat person – it’s a dwarf.”
The dwarf was trussed in the bottom of the boat covered in the filth and mire of the bilge. The Voice took on a strident imperious tone: “Who are you dwarf, and do you have a visa?”
“Well, I’ll be,” said the Dwarf. “Julie, thank goodness it’s you. I’ve been drifting since 24 November.”
“Yes,” said Julie “but who are you?” The dwarf was a snaggletooth creature wearing heavy black-rimmed glasses with the bushiest eyebrows anyone had seen since Sir Robert Menzies.
“Don’t you remember me Julie? It’s me, Little Johnnie, and this used to be the Ship of State but something horrible happened on the 24th; the crew abandoned ship, we lost I don’t know how many and all the magic has worn off. Prince Crispian,” at this the dwarf spat, “has had his first victory. For pity’s sake untie me.”
Suddenly it dawned on Alexander and Peter that this was their erstwhile boss.
“Leave the treacherous runt where he is and push the boat back out to sea,” said Peter being as charitable as he could under the circumstances (he had been brought up as a Baptist after all).
“No,” said Julie untying the Dwarf. “We need the boat to get to the mainland and take the fight to Prince Crispian and I am the sworn enemy of Jules of the Galliard.”
“Who?” said Little Lucy.
“The red-headed Welsh bint,” said Alexander. “Now, treacherous, stubborn Dwarf, tell us what you know and lead us to meat and drink.”
For now, we shall have to wait to see what his words were to be.